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UCLA Neuroendocrine Tumors (NET)
We make a difference every day in the lives of patients and their loved ones who are affected by neuroendocrine tumors (NET). The UCLA NET team is dedicated to providing the best possible care from the time that patients are diagnosed throughout their treatment and follow-up period. Our expert physicians and nurses work closely with specialists throughout UCLA to achieve the most successful outcomes.
UCLA has a proven track record in the fields of surgery, medical oncology, gastroenterology, endocrinology and imaging. Our faculty includes nationally and internationally renowned experts in the diagnosis and treatment of neuroendocrine tumors. In 2015, the comprehensive resources at UCLA coalesced to form a dedicated Neuroendocrine Tumor Program. The UCLA NET team brings together clinicians in all disciplines involved in taking care of patients with neuroendocrine tumors. The team offers access to world-class patient care, which includes an interdisciplinary tumor board that reviews all patient cases. This joint effort has led to UCLA becoming one of the few expanded access Investigational New Drug trial sites for peptide receptor radionuclide therapy in the U.S.
Neuroendocrine tumors are a heterogeneous group of epithelial neoplasms (abnormal growth of tissue) that originate in hormone-producing cells of the body’s neuroendocrine system. As neuroendocrine cells are in almost every organ of the body, NETs can appear almost everywhere, including the digestive system, pancreas and lungs. NETs can show different biological behavior, appearance and response to therapy. Those variances largely depend on their location, hormone production and cell characteristics.
NETs can be grouped by their status as hormone-producing or non-hormone-producing tumors. They can also be classified by their growth rate as well-differentiated or poorly differentiated tumors. Well-differentiated NETs tend to be more biologically indolent (slow to develop) and poorly differentiated NETs — including small cell or large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma — can exhibit more rapid clinical progression. A widely used tool to measure the proliferation rate is Ki-67 (a nuclear protein involved in the cell-cycle regulation). A Ki-67 tumor of less than 3 percent is defined as low-grade (G1); 3 to 20 percent is considered intermediate-grade (G2); and greater than 20 percent is high-grade (G3). Low- and intermediate-grade tumors are considered well-differentiated tumors.
We offer diagnosis and treatment from experts in surgery, medical oncology, gastroenterology, pathology, radiology and nuclear medicine who are dedicated to treating patients with NETs. Treatment decisions are based on a discussion for each patient by the tumor board, which considers state-of-the-art treatment approaches, innovative research protocols and evidence-based medicine. We offer patients the most comprehensive care possible to treat NETs by leveraging our world-class programs for pancreas diseases, liver transplant, cancer and nuclear medicine.
Our team is committed to finding the best treatment for each patient. Multiple options are available depending on the type, location and extent of disease. This allows each patient’s case to be discussed at our NET tumor board and multidisciplinary meetings. We are the only institution in the region to offer patients comprehensive care, from state-of-the-art PET diagnostics to radiation therapy to liver transplantation. Treatment options include:
- This includes minimally invasive procedures using laparoscopy or laparotomy. If the whole tumor cannot be removed safely, a surgical reduction of the tumor mass might be considered.
- Radiation therapy. High X-rays or other particles are used to eliminate cancer cells. This is done either by external-beam radiation therapy (where radiation is administered from outside the body) or internal/brachytherapy radiation therapy (where implants inside the body are used for treatment).
- Uses toxic drugs that interfere with the growth of cancer cells and results in destroying those cells.
- Radiofrequency ablation. Radiofrequency waves are used to kill cancer cells in a defined area.
- Targeted therapy. Targets certain areas of the cancer cell or its environment (including genes and proteins) that are responsible for the growth and/or survival of the tumor.
- Hormone therapy. Medicine is given to decrease hormone production by the tumor. Suitable for patients with symptoms caused by hormone release from the neuroendocrine tumor.
- Peptide receptor radionuclide therapy. A cell-targeting protein (or peptide) is combined with a small radionuclide (or radioactive material). This hormone-like drug is given intravenously. It travels to the tumor cells and delivers a high dose of radiation to destroy the tumor.
- Theranostics (nuclear medicine diagnostics and therapeutics) (310) 794-1005
- Johannes Czernin, MD, Molecular Imaging, Nuclear Medicine, Chief of the Ahmanson Translational Theranostics Division at UCLA
- Martin Auerbach, MD, Nuclear Medicine
- Andrew Quon, MD, Nuclear Medicine
- Giuseppe Carlucci, Radiopharmacy, Radiochemistry
- Radiology (310) 301-6800
- Barbara Kadell, MD, Diagnostic Radiology
- David Lu, MD, Diagnostic Radiology
- Steven Raman, MD, Diagnostic Radiology
- Surgery (310) 794-7788
- Timothy Donahue, MD, General Surgery (GI, pancreas)
- Mark Girgis, MD, General Surgery (GI, pancreas)
- Joe Hines, MD General Surgery (GI, pancreas)
- Vatche Agopian, MD, Liver and Transplant Surgery (liver)
- Medical Oncology
- Joel Randolph Hecht, MD, Digestive Diseases, Hematology & Oncology (GI)
- Zev Wainberg, MD, Hematology & Oncology (GI)
- John Glaspy, MD, Hematology & Oncology
- Jonathan Goldman, MD, Hematology & Oncology (lung)
- GI/ Endocrinology (310) 825-7922
- Anthony Heaney, MD, Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism
- Joseph Pisegna, MD, Digestive Diseases, NET diseases
- Raman Muthusamy, MD, Digestive Diseases, Interventional Endoscopy
- Stephen Kim, MD, Digestive Diseases, Interventional Endoscopy
- Pathology (310) 267-2680
- David Dawson, MD, PhD, Anatomic Pathology & Clinical Pathology
- UCLA NET team contacts (310) 206-6889
- Lauren Damato, NP, MSN, Nurse Coordinator
Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center
757 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
For PRRT information please call Thaiza Adams at (310) 794-7741.
For questions about the UCLA NET team, including patient issues and information about clinical trials, please contact Lauren Damato at (310) 206-6889.
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News & Videos
Check out the video of the LACNETs Patient Education meeting “Focus on PRRT” on April 14, 2020.